Halloween To-Do List

In T-minus 4 days, it will finally be October. It may be time to start getting started on that Halloween itinerary. To help you out, here’s some exciting attractions taking place in the Lower Mainland this October.

Fright Nights

Ah, Playland. A classic. Starting next week (October 4th to be specific), Fright Nights at Playland will commence. Starting at 7pm, guests enter the park and are granted admission to about 20 different rides (wooden coaster included, of course) and 8 different haunted houses. Not only that, you can still enjoy mini donuts and the classic Triple-O’s milkshake as you get chased around the park by their certified Freaks. Tickets for regular admission and rapid pass can be purchased over at Ticketleader!

Haunted Vancouver Trolley Tours

If you want a more…educational Halloween activity, the Haunted Vancouver Trolley Tours may be just up your alley. Running for 2 hours and 30 minutes, you’ll listen to your guide tell you stories of murder and betrayal, ghosts and ghouls and you’ll get to see a different, much less alive side of the city. If you aren’t super into jump scares and want a more traditional horror experience, you can pick up tickets here!

Maan Farms Haunted Corn Maze & Pitch Black  

For those looking to get out of the city for a bit, Maan Farms of Abbotsford has got you covered. They’ll be back with their classic corn maze, a terrifying maze of jump scares and horrifying gore, and their newest attraction, Pitch Black, which is not for the faint of heart. Described as a multi-sensory experience, guests have the option to choose whether they want the true interactive experience where, spoiler alert, the no touching rule does not exist. Early bird and regular tickets for both are available now and can be found here 

Potter’s House of Horrors

Located in Surrey, this 15,000 square foot (!!!) live theatre event may just be the thing to cure your hiccups. Potter’s House of Horrors offers older patrons two ginormous haunted houses filled with actors, animations, and atmospheric sounds to explore. If you don’t want to go all out with the spooks, you can visit their family hour before 7 which offers a more mild version of the houses. That’s not all though, you can also test your logic at The Escape from Incineration escape room or feel what it’s like to be buried alive in the coffin ride (claustrophobics beware). Tickets for everything taking place at Potter’s can be found here.

Happy Haunting!


Cold Weather, Cold Season

With the start of fall, it’s time to start thinking about the beginning of cold and flu season. While its usually not as bad as it was back in public school (at least most adults know how to wash their hands), flu season can be tough when you’ve got commutes and work responsibilities.

We all know your basic cover your mouth when you cough, use hand sanitizer after being in public spaces, stay home when you’re sick, etc.; but what do you do when that’s not enough?

Here are some things for busy adults when even after all your valiant efforts, you still end up with a bug:

  1. Oh my goodness, this thing is a life saver and super portable. All you need is hot water and any type of mug. Personally I find it works a lot better than DayQuil, not to mention it tastes like a nice cup of tea.
  2. Vicks VapoRub. A nice trick for getting rid of decongestion is to slather some on the bottom of your feet and throw on a thick pair of socks. Sounds super weird and uncomfortable but it really does work (and the smell gets masked!).
  3. It really is true that raw honey does wonders for a sore throat. I’m personally not a huge fan of cough drops so buying individual honey sticks is a really great replacement.
  4. Heat rubs. Sore muscles are one of the most difficult parts of getting sick, in my opinion. Medicine can work to combat them but if you want a little bit more help without lugging around a heating pad, throwing a tube of this stuff into your bag can give you a bit more comfort throughout the day.

And last but not least,

  1. Rest! Sometimes it’s the most productive thing we can do for ourselves, whether that be calling in for the day or just giving ourselves a bit of a breather from the usual workload.


Wizards and Brews

Happy Autumn equinox! While October may be over a week away, we have officially moved away from “Man, we should have installed an AC this year” season. This means we can  officially say its spooky season…sorry…but really, it’s time to bust out the horror movies, binge on Halloween candy that you definitely bought specifically to handout, and maybe check out a Harry Potter themed beer, cider, and cocktail festival.

On October 4th, the Roundhouse Mews will be hosting a magical wizard themed festival where guests can delve into the wizarding world in a more graduated, legal Hogwarts student kind of way. The Community and Arts Centre will be offering a jam packed event for Potterheads and brew connoisseurs alike.

A bartender in the Professor Snakes lounge will be, of course, providing some common potions such as liquid luck and a polyjuice potion alongside a harder take on the classic butterbeer. There will also be plenty of food for you to soak up the alcohol or pair with a nice craft brew or cider.

DJ Dobs and the Porter Party Band will be providing live music for you as you wander through Cobblestone Alley, stopping along the way to take photos with live characters. Oh and did I mention you have the chance to get your own wand? Yeah. On top of that Potterheads can test their knowledge at the prized trivia or try their luck at the snitch toss. In proper themed party fashion, Roundhouse encourages guests to dress up! Don’t be scared to take an early trip to Spirit Halloween next weekend if you got the chance to swoop up some tickets.

Speaking of tickets, they run $55 for the event and all of its goodies. Unfortunately they’re sold out at this time but if you’re interested, you can sign up for the waitlist here to snag one if more become available closer to the date.


UFC Fight Night 158 in Vancouver

What’s better than this? Guys bein’ dudes! UFC fans rejoice! Vancouver will be hosting its first Fight Night in over three years tomorrow night. Now, I’m not a big sports person but back in high school, my friends would have UFC nights and we’d all cram onto a couch to watch some guys throw down on a Saturday. Good times.

Tomorrow UFC Lightweight Championship challenger Donald Cerrone and WSOF Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje will step into the octagon for UFC Fight Night 158 at Rogers Arena as the main card headliners.

Cerrone, who’s also known by his ring name “Cowboy”, has so far remained undefeated in the Canadian UFC events he’s attended and could be making it a 5-win streak if he proves victorious. Yee haw! Gaethje, who lands at number 5 in the UFC lightweight rankings, took home his fourth career night of Fight night in August after knocking out Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night 135. Some nice competition.

The co-main event will feature two top-15 ranked light heavyweight  competitors, Glover Teixeira from Brazil and Nikita Krylov from Ukraine. Krylov, ranked at #13, is bet at -120 chalk for tomorrow night and has won all of his 25 MMA victories in just two rounds. Teixeira, who is ranked #9, seems like he’ll have a lot of competition.

The fights will be streamed on ESPN+, with the prelims beginning at 2 PM and the main cards at 5 PM. The official weigh ins began earlier today and spoiler alert: Michel Pereira missed it and will forfeit 20% of purse. If you want to catch the recorded stream, you can find it here. The ceremonial weigh ins will be taking place at 4 PM this evening so you still have time to catch it.

For those who still want to grab last minute tickets, head on over to Ticketmaster for more details.


The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival!

Move over VIFF, VIFF is here. That’s right! The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival kicks off at 8 PM tonight at St. James Hall. Have you ever wanted to dance underneath a full moon on Friday the 13th? Yeah, I can’t say the thought has ever crossed my mind either but if you’re interested in listening to some traditional music, watching some talented dancers, and maybe trying out a workshop or two yourself, the VIFF is the place to be.

Flamenco is an art form based from lore of traditional music from Andalusia, Spain. The art form has been widely associated with the Romani people, with it being danced at Roma celebrations around the country back in the 20th century. The earliest record of the word dates all the way back from 1774 in a book by José Cadalso called Las Cartas Marruecas, which translates to The Moroccan Letters in English. Flamenco itself is considered an expression so it isn’t defined just by dance but rather any art form that comes from it.

Each flamenco song is classified by something called a palo, a system that categorizes the song through rhythm, chords, mode, stanzaic form, and geographical location.

Palos. Photo from Angvm11 on Wikipedia Creative Commons

There have been many artists showcasing more modern forms of the flamenco expression, including one of my favourite musicians, Rosalía, who creates music and visuals through the genre New Flamenco, a sound that mixes traditional art with more modern forms of RnB and Urbano.

Rosalía Vil Tobella by Pedro J Pacheco on Wikipedia Creative Commons

Going back to the topic of VIFF, the festival will span over 2 weeks for its 29th year. It features both ticketed and free events for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the art or just pop in to check it out. Manuel Liñán, one of Spain’s top who is well known for wearing a bata de cola (a traditional flamenco dress for females), causing some controversy in the community, will be making his VIFF premiere on Saturday with Baile De Autor (bata de cola included!).

If you want to learn more about the festival or cop some tickets, you can visit their website here!



25 Years of Word Festival

This summer I got really, really, really into reading; like to the point where I read 3 novels in the span of two weeks. I feel like for me reading is always somewhat of a hit or miss. Sometimes I’ll go on a crazy binge like a fiend and other times, the unopened books just lay on my bookshelf, collecting dust. I know a lot of us are like that:

via Twitter

But if you’ve been wanting to get back into reading or maybe just spark a new interest for it, Word Canada will be coming back to the Vancouver Public Central Library for its 25th year. The event is free to the public and celebrates being Western Canada’s largest literary festival.

The main goal of Word Vancouver is to promote literacy as alluded in their purpose and mandate:

  • Foster an awareness and appreciation of the printed word in our culture

  • Involve the residents of Vancouver in a celebration of writing and reading

  • Promote the importance of literacy in the lives of all Canadians

  • Programming mandate includes attracting a line-up of internationally celebrated and recognized Canadian literary talents to the annual festival

Looking at the program lineup, this festival seems like a great way to expose people to diverse authors and subjects. Word also includes something really adorable: Adopt an Author! You’ll be able to choose an author, get a free signed copy of their book, and you’ll get an acknowledgement on the festival’s website. It’s Word’s way of making, “a meaningful connection to Vancouver’s writing community.”

The festival takes place for almost a full week, the 24th to the 29th, with the 29th being the main day. As I said, the festival is free to the general public so go enjoy and learn some things! As they say, “Knowledge is Power.”

If you wanna learn more, click here!


Artists for Conservation

Growing up with a mom whose main hobby is photographing and painting birds, I’m a sucker for a good art show, especially if it involves an animal exhibit. Lucky for me our very own VanDusen Botanical Garden will be hosting the 2019 Artists for Conservation presented by RE/MAX Agents.

“Crater Kings” by Karen Laurence-Rowe. Artists for Conservation Book Cover.

The festival spans over the course of three days (27th-29th) but if you can’t wait, you can check out the preview weekend at Maplewood Flats in North Van this weekend. The art featured is themed around conservation so it makes sense that 40% of art sales will be going to protecting our furry friends and providing funding for educational programs around the world.

There are three wildlife organizations partnered with the festival, including the O.W.L Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program, and the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. These organizations provide some vital support to our wildlife here in the Lower Mainland as well and could always use some support. Personally, I’ve been to OWL Rehab and it was a really interesting experience. Although let me say, seeing an owl in person is kind of a surreal experience and I feel like as a society we don’t talk about how creepy looking they are enough.

The festival doesn’t just offer a gallery visit though. Workshops, music and cultural performances, First Nations presentations, and film screenings are just some of the other exciting events that will provide environmental education to guests.

If you don’t want to pay the $110 for a ticket, you can always pay the regular VanDusen admission price to access the outdoor programs or check out the additional free programming over at Maplewood Flats and Delbrook Community Centre in North Vancouver.

To purchase tickets for this event, you can head on over to the festival’s website.


Vancouver, Yoga, Animals, Oh My!

Living in or around Vancouver, you’ve probably had a friend ask you to come do yoga with them; it’s like a Vancouverite’s rite of passage at this point. Of course, that would be if you aren’t already dedicated to the Zen lifestyle.

There are quite a few different types of yoga classes to be found around the city, ranging from strength or cardio to meditation, ones to increase your  flexibility, hot yoga…or sometimes you can just hang out with some animals and deep breath for a good cause.

Picture via Eventbrite and Maplewood Farm

Yep, you read that right. We aren’t just talking about the puppy pose here, oh no, we’re talking real life fur babies.

Animal yoga has sparked quite an interest in the Lower Mainland over the past couple years and has become an increasingly popular way to organize charity events or just get people excited about the art of yoga. You might have even caught Vancouver’s very own Sunberry Fitness on Buzzfeed and CBC News for their bunny yoga class. Many universities such as SFU and UBC also offer it as a way for students to unwind.

These classes are often partnered with charities, rescue foundations, or are offered at farms across the Lower Mainland, allowing you to go through a typical yoga class while animals such as bunnies, goats, puppies, and even cats hang out in the room. The classes are kept as natural as possible, letting the animals do their thing as you move through your yoga routine.

Some places like TAP Spirit in Langley are even offering opportunities for you to bring your own pup in with for a special bonding class on the 15th.

If you’d like to get in on the bunny action, you can hop over to Sunberry Fitness to check for monthly updates regarding the class. If the country is more your thing, Maplewood Farm is offering weekend morning classes in the paddock.


The Vancouver International Film Festival

With the Toronto International Film Festival coming to a close this Sunday, it’s time to start thinking about our very own IFF here on the west coast. Starting September 26th, the Vancouver International Film Festival will begin its two-week endeavour at seven venues around the city for cinephiles and documentary nerds alike.

Image by viff.org

VIFF, which prides itself as one of the top five largest film festivals in North America, will be showcasing over 180 features, alongside 80 shorts, from both renowned film makers and exciting new voices. While it may not quite have the celebrity glamour of TIFF, the festival presents some unique qualities for attendees. It showcases the largest number of Canadian projects and screens the most selections of East Asian films outside of the region, not to mention the documentary program and the immersive interactions with industry leaders.

6 p.m. sharp, the festival will kick off with two very unique productions at two different locations. At the first venue, SFU Goldcorp will be screening the North American premiere of Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, a story based around the passion, modernity, and tradition of family as director Gu Xiaogang explores his hometown of Fuyang through the use of cinematic mid and long shots, playing with the camera to create immersive drama for the audience.

If that doesn’t quite strike your fancy, the Vancity Theatre will be screening the program MODES 1 which showcases 7 short productions from various directors that aim to draw the viewer in through sensory experiences, challenging them to “submit to the artist.”

Still from the MODES 1 film, Cavalcade. Directed by Johann Lurf. Print Source: Sixpack Films America

So, grab your popcorn and whatever snacks you’ll be sneaking in, Vancouver! (Except not really, I definitely don’t condone that.) Ticket and schedule information for this exciting event can be found here or on the individual festival categories (passes, talks, immersed, AMP).

Happy viewing!


BC’s Very Own Old Town Road

Yee (and I cannot stress this enough) haw. Saddle up, cowboys, today is a big day. Not only is today the release of Lil Nas X’s long awaited “Old Town Road” music video, it’s also the first day of the Cloverdale Rodeo! One of North America’s longest running rodeos, might I add.

The Rodeo and Country Fair returns on the May long weekend for its 73rd year running and features an array of events for those old and young including entertainment in their Longhorn Saloon and on the Lordco outdoor stage, an Agrizone where you can meet some adorable animals, lumberjack shows, and corgi races. Oh, and of course it wouldn’t be country without a BBQ fest. The main attraction though is probably the rodeo itself, a place where 24 cowboys and cowgirls alike compete for a $300,000 prize and the title of Rodeo Champion. The rodeo features things like bareback riding, bronc riding (you may know this from the term “bucking bronco”), bull riding, and ladies barrel riding.

The event will start today and ends on the 20th. Tickets are currently still available, access to the rodeo is $25 and the fair is $10 (kids under 12 are free!).

If that doesn’t sweeten your tea, you can always check out the Rodeo Parade that starts on 177B Street and Highway #10 in the colourful little town of Cloverdale tomorrow at 10am. It will feature floats, marching units, bands, antique cars, and some horses taken down the old town road.

For more information and schedules for the Cloverdale Rodeo, buckle up and head here.

A Special Storm Brings a Light Show to Canada

Have you ever made a bucket list? If so, does that bucket list maybe have seeing the infamous northern lights on it? Well if it does, you’re in luck! The National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration issued a G1 Geomagnetic Storm Watch a few days ago for the 15th and 16th. This means that there is an area of magnetic activity in and around a sunspot which in turn means that southern parts of the country will see the south skies light up in an array of colourful flares.

via Giuseppe Milo on flickr

The northern lights, or auroras, happen when charged particles travel along the solar wind and interact with different molecules in the magnetosphere. They’re predominantly seen in northern regions such as the Arctic circle, although in some cases, we get our own southern lights. Usually it goes through a cycle of activity every 11 years which happens to be occurring right now!

The magnetic storm started a little earlier than expected this year, causing bright explosions of light just after midnight on the 14th in some northern states like Iowa and Michigan. Lucky for Canadians, it looks like we will be able to get a peek. Unfortunately, light pollution plays a big role in whether or not they’ll be visible to us so Metro Vancouver might not be the place to watch them. Your best bet would be heading a little bit up north or east to get a glimpse. Make sure you’ve got a camera ready!

If you want some more information regarding auroras, NASA always has great info.
You can check out the weather for your area over at the The Weather Network

Songs of Schizophrenia

Mother’s Day on Sunday brought the end of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 68th Mental Health week. In commemoration of this week, many different societies got involved, putting out campaigns and wellness tips for people to get educated and take care of themselves. Some places, such as The British Columbia Schizophrenia Society, created ways for people to really understand just how much mental illness can affect someone.

Schizophrenia psychically affects the brain like many other diseases

They created Songs of Schizophrenia. No, this is not the edgy name of some rock or trap album, it doesn’t fit the stigmatized bill of being scary or creepy; it’s simply an album created to showcase what those suffering from psychosis might experience in their everyday life. To create it, the BCSS collaborated with 10 Canadian Musicians, editing the songs provided to emulate what it can be like to experience auditory hallucinations.

When listening to the songs, you will hear voices, ranging from encouraging and friendly to threatening and unsettling. The voices play throughout, some accompanied by other sounds such as banging on a door. They hope the project will help people, whether they know someone with the disease or not, understand what it’s like to suffer from it.

Schizophrenia is a brain disease that is the result of physical and chemical imbalances in the brain. It causes things such as delusions and hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and can go hand in hand with other mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. Worldwide 1 in 100 people are affected and over 47,000 British Columbians and 360,000 Canadians live with it, this number goes up even higher with psychosis, a condition that causes a detachment with reality.

While the audio may be quite disturbing to some, it’s a good reminder that many people around suffer from things like it that they cannot simply press pause on.

Songs of Schizophrenia can be found on Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Music.
To learn more about schizophrenia and psychosis, head to the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society

Donating Blood Will Get a Little Bit Easier for Some

The Federal Government announced last week that it has approved the plan that would reduce the time that gay men are celibate before donating blood. Canadian Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor says the period between donating blood would be going down to three months from its former one year. The request for the reduction of the ban comes from Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec and makes Canada the fourth country to reduce the ban to this length, right after Scotland, England, and Wales.

After many years, scientific evidence has shown that reductions have not affected the number of HIV positive donations. Up until 2013, Canada had a lifetime ban on MSM (men who have sex with men) blood donations for anyone who engaged in sexual activity with another man after 1977. In 2013, it was changed to 5 years, then reduced by one in 2016, and finally brings us to where we are now.

Health Canada said in a statement that it is a “significant step towards eliminating the deferral period entirely” and that the change “ensures that Canada remains a global leader in safe, non-discriminatory blood donation.”

Blood/blood products are crucial in many lifesaving medical procedure and there is always a constant need for them in Canada. If you’re like me and not too comfortable with medical procedures, have no fear! There are no health risks associated with giving blood and the process is over in practically no time.

For more information about donating and the ban, head on over to Canadian Blood Services

Grey Skies and Burning Eyes

Living in BC means grey skies during every season, though not every single sky brings rain. Summer time for us British Columbians can be tough. It’s not only unbearably hot, but our beautiful scenery usually becomes a blazing ball of fire by the time July rolls around, causing dark skies and some unpleasant symptoms.

Occasionally wildfire season hits us a little bit sooner, like right now for example. As of today, half of the province is already under “high fire danger” which means forest fuel is dry and there is a serious risk of fires.

via CBC, 2018 wildfire season

Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and very fine particles which can be incredibly irritating to our bodies and while we can’t do much about the smoke that arrives, we can do some things to protect ourselves from it:

1. Stay in air-controlled places! Air conditioning, H-VAC systems, keep your windows closed, oh my!
2. Reduce the amount of activity you do outside, both strenuous and leisure.
3. If you have a respiratory condition or chronic illness, take it easy, man.
4. Sometimes smoke can cause inflammation so keep yourself hydrated and take anti-inflammatories as you see fit.
5. Speaking of keeping yourself hydrated, keep yourself hydrated.

Of course, like always, make sure you are keeping your surroundings safe as well. This means following campfire/fire bans, putting your cigarette butts in appropriate places of disposal, and listening to the BC wildfire service.

For more info, check out: EmergencyInfoBC